Young People Ask . . .
Abortion—Is It the Answer?
“When my pregnancy-test results came out positive,” recalls Judy, “my boyfriend immediately demanded that I get an abortion. He even gave me the money for it.” Judy was 17 years old.a
WHEN 15-year-old Marta discovered that she was pregnant, she spoke with a counselor at the abortion clinic. “She explained it all to me,” says Marta. “She told me that I could have an abortion, or she’d help me find an adoption agency or a maternity home, if that was what I wanted.”
More than a million adolescent girls become pregnant each year in the United States alone. Included among them are a number of youths who, in spite of Christian training, have disobeyed God’s command to “abstain from fornication,” or premarital sex. (1 Thessalonians 4:3) This immorality results in much needless suffering. Many of these youths, though, come to regret their course of conduct and want to straighten out their lives. But faced with the frightening prospect of having a baby out of wedlock, some may wonder if an abortion might be an easy solution to their problems. After all, each year nearly half-a-million pregnant girls in the United States opt for abortion. Could this really be the best answer to an unwanted pregnancy?
Why Some Have Abortions
Understandably, some powerful, even conflicting, emotions may come into play. A young woman is bound to have some natural feelings for the child growing within her, but she may also have legitimate fears and anxieties.
Eighteen-year-old Vicky, for example, “wanted to go to college, maybe even get a master’s degree.” In her mind, having a baby would interfere with her plans. (’Teen magazine, March 1992) Marta likewise concluded: “If you’re a mother, you stay home with your child and you’re done with school. I wasn’t ready for that.” According to one study, 87 percent of teenagers who have abortions fear that having a baby would dramatically change their lives in a way they are not prepared to accept.
The fear of financial difficulties and the concern that one may not be capable of handling the responsibilities of single parenthood are also common reasons many choose abortion. Vicky put it this way: “I came from a family where my parents divorced, and my mother raised her three children by herself. I watched her struggle . . . I could just see myself ending up a single parent like my mother.”
Pressure from others, particularly a boyfriend, can also push one toward terminating a pregnancy. Judy’s boyfriend gave her the ultimatum: “If you don’t get an abortion, I don’t want to see you ever again.” For Nancy pressure to have an abortion came from her mother as well as other relatives.
The popular view that abortion doesn’t really involve killing an infant also exerts a potent influence. Vicky says: “I wouldn’t let myself think of it as a baby. . . . I read that through the fifth week of pregnancy, the fetus is smaller than your pinkie fingernail. I latched onto that idea like you wouldn’t believe. I told myself that if it was only the size of a pinkie nail, it wasn’t really a baby. I tried to make it not real in my mind so that I could go through with the abortion.”
Some also claim that, at least in technically advanced nations, abortion is safe—supposedly safer than childbearing for a pregnant adolescent. All things considered, then, abortion may seem desirable. Nevertheless, the facts show that many who choose abortion have regrets later. Says one woman: “I had an abortion at the age of 20. Now I’m 34, and it’s hard for me to deal with what I did. I wanted my baby, but my boyfriend didn’t. I’m still experiencing emotional trauma; the pain is with you for the rest of your life.”
Rather than being the easy way out, abortion can compound one’s difficulties. At the very least, it goes against the grain of our inward sense of right and wrong—the conscience that God implanted in humankind. (Romans 2:15) Furthermore, abortion requires a young woman to shut the door of her tender compassions upon the tiny life developing within her. (Compare 1 John 3:17.) How demoralizing!
Marta says: “It wasn’t until a couple of weeks had gone by [after the abortion] that I began to feel guilty and kind of ashamed of what I’d done.” Things got even tougher when February rolled around—the month in which the baby would have been born. Eliasa reflects: “Fifteen years ago I had an abortion. Following that, I suffered serious depression and had to be treated in a clinic a number of times. I even wanted to commit suicide.”
True, not all young women react in this way. Many sincerely believe that a fetus is not a human life. But what does the Creator—“the source of life”—say in this regard? (Psalm 36:9) The Bible makes it clear that to Jehovah God the unborn child developing inside the womb is far more than mere fetal tissue. He inspired King David to write: “Your eyes saw even the embryo of me, and in your book all its parts were down in writing.” (Psalm 139:16) The Creator thus views even an embryo as a distinct person, a living human. For this reason, he stated that a person would be called to account for injuring an unborn child. (Exodus 21:22, 23) Yes, as far as God is concerned, killing an unborn child is the taking of a human life. A girl who wants to please God, therefore, cannot consider abortion to be an acceptable option—regardless of pressure placed upon her.b
Judy, mentioned at the outset, chose not to abort her baby. She says: “My older sister found out, and right from the start, she was supportive, particularly emotionally. She even said she would continue to support me after I had the baby. That’s all I needed to hear to do what I felt was right deep down in my heart. I went ahead and had the baby.” That was nine years ago. Looking at her eight-year-old son, Judy says: “Going through with the abortion would have been the biggest mistake of my life.”
A young woman named Natisa similarly relates: “Five years ago I was sitting in an abortion clinic, waiting my turn. Instead of taking my turn, I thought twice and walked out of the clinic. I now have a wonderful four-year-old son, another baby on the way, and am married to a loving father.”
Anyone faced with a pregnancy out of wedlock should not make a rash decision. As bad as things might look, it is not the end of the world. But such ones certainly do need support and mature guidance. Giving one’s heart to one’s parents is a good start, especially if they are Christians. (Proverbs 23:26) True, they will no doubt be hurt and angry at first. In the long run, though, they will likely be moved to help out. They may, for example, arrange for prenatal care. They can also help in taking advantage of any government programs available to those who may qualify. Most important, they can encourage the erring one to receive needed spiritual help from the congregation elders.—James 5:14, 15.
Some unwed mothers have chosen to give up their babies for adoption, feeling that they couldn’t give the best to the baby. While adoption is certainly better than ending the child’s life, God does hold a parent responsible to ‘provide for his or her own.’ (1 Timothy 5:8) A single parent may not be able to give her child the best materially, but she can give something far more important—love. (Proverbs 15:17) So under most circumstances, it would be better for an unwed mother to raise the child herself.
What about the task of raising an infant—and the drastic changes in life-style that will no doubt have to be made? All of this may seem overwhelming. Nevertheless, the Bible provides practical counsel that can help people deal with these challenges. Repentant unwed mothers can also benefit from spiritual help based solidly on God’s Word. Yes, with loving support and proper guidance, these can make the most of the situation.c Abortion is simply not the answer!
a Some of the names have been changed.
b Anyone who erred in the past and aborted an unborn life need not conclude that all is lost. Such ones can be confident that Jehovah supports repentant wrongdoers and ‘forgives in a large way.’ (Isaiah 55:7) While the emotional scars may linger, the psalmist assures: “As far off as the sunrise is from the sunset, so far off from us he has put our transgressions.”—Psalm 103:12.
c See The Watchtower of September 15, 1980, “Single Parents Coping in Today’s World.” Also, see “Young People Ask . . . How Can Unwed Mothers Make the Most of Their Situation?” in the October 8, 1994, issue of Awake!
[Picture on page 26]
Boyfriends often try to pressure girls into having an abortion